Black Men Respond to R. Kelly’s Not Guilty Verdict

June 17, 2008

*Statement of Black Men Against the Exploitation of Black Women*

Six years have gone by since we first heard the allegations that R. Kelly had filmed himself having sex with an underage girl. During that time we have seen the videotape being hawked on street corners in Black communities, as if the dehumanization of one of our own was not at stake. We have seen entertainers rally around him and watched his career reach new heights despite the grave possibility that he had molested and urinated on a 13-year old girl. We saw African Americans purchase millions of his records despite the long history of such charges swirling around the singer. Worst of all, we have witnessed the sad vision of Black people cheering his acquittal with a fervor usually reserved for community heroes and shaken our heads at the stunning lack of outrage over the verdict in the broader Black community.

Over these years, justice has been delayed and it has been denied. Perhaps a jury can accept R. Kelly’s absurd defense and find “reasonable doubt” despite the fact that the film was shot in his home and featured a man who was identical to him. Perhaps they doubted that the young woman in the courtroom was, in fact, the same person featured in the ten year old video. But there is no doubt about this: some young Black woman was filmed being degraded and exploited by a much older Black man, some daughter of our community was left unprotected, and somewhere another Black woman is being molested, abused or raped and our callous handling of this case will make it that much more difficult for her to come forward and be believed. And each of us is responsible for it.

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Sex Workers and The Media

April 7, 2008

A Tale Of Two Strippers…
by Aishah Shahidah Simmons

Sometime last fall Michael Simmons, my father and comrade in the international struggles to end violence against women, called me to share his passionate rage about all of the positive hype around Diablo Cody’s, (the very talented Academy Award® Winning screenwriter of the film Juno, directed by Jason Reitman) herstory as a stripper to support herself while writing screenplays. Media outlets, from National Public Radio to Entertainment Tonight, raved about “the stripper turned Hollywood screenwriter.”

Before my feminist sisters get upset, I want to be clear that Michael’s (and my) passionate rage isn’t about Sister Diablo Cody. This is not an anti-sex worker piece/peace. While I, as a Black feminist lesbian, critique a patriarchal, sexist, and misogynist world where sex work is, for countless women in the world, the only viable option to make a living, I do not and will not ever critique women for “choosing” sex work to financially support themselves.

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Women’s History Month | Screening of NO! The Rape Documentary @ Raday Salon in Budapest Hungary

March 12, 2008

Violence Against Women| Screening of NO! at Raday Salon in Budapest Hungary

After a long hiatus of screenings, book signings, and lectures, the Raday Salon kicks off its 2008 season with a screening of NO! The Rape Documentary to commemorate Women’s History Month. This is not the first time that Raday Salon has hosted screenings and discussions of NO! The Rape Documentary both as a rough cut and now as a completed documentary to standing room only audiences. However given the horrific and unfortuante global manifestation of sexual violence, combined with requests from people who have not had the opportunity to view the documentary, Linda Carranza and Michael Simmons, the Salon’s co-founders, are hosting an encore screening.

“...We have developed many new ties with folks who are new to Budapest or just new to our Salon, who have expressed an interest in seeing the film. We would be happy to see both old and new Salon friends at this showing, especially as the discussion is always different and brings up new observations every time we show the film…” will be an encore screening and discussion of NO! The Rape Documentary.” — Linda Carranza & Michael Simmons

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Unveiling the Silence: NO! The Rape Documentary Study Guide

November 24, 2007

Unveiling the Silence:NO! The Rape Documentary Study GuideUnveiling the Silence: NO! The Rape Documentary Study Guide is available for purchase.

Created by Salamishah Tillet, Ph.D., and Rachel Afi Quinn, with the creative and editorial direction of Aishah Shahidah Simmons, producer, writer, and director of NO!, this 100-page interactive study guide may be used within a workshop, class session, or semester-long course. You may decide to screen the documentary film in its entirety or use segments integrated into a broader course addressing race, gender, and sexuality.

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Breaking Silences Ending Rape Documentary Available In December

November 23, 2007

Men Stopping ViolenceIt’s been a long time coming, but AfroLez® Productions has completed Breaking Silences, the two-hour supplemental video to NO! The Rape Documentary. As the producer and director, I’m so excited to be able to share this educational organizing tool with everyone in December 2007.

Breaking Silences features selected in-depth excerpts from the thirty plus hours that didn’t make it into the internationally acclaimed NO! The Rape Documentary. Photographed by Joan Brannon; Edited and Composed by Monica Dillon, Breaking Silences is compartmentalized into five individual segments which feature compelling messages from women and men violence prevention advocates/activists and riveting testimonials from women who are multiple survivors of sexual violence. Funded by the Ford Foundation, Breaking Silences is an ideal educational organizing tool, which can be used both independently and as a supplement to NO! The Rape Documentary. Read more